News - October 10, 2013

Tucking into reject potatoes

Hundreds of students tucked into a Sunday lunch made of discarded food on 29 September. The lunch was provided in order to make students more aware of the issue of food waste.

The promise of a free lunch drew at least 500 students to Orion. The students who organized the event had gone around local farms and supermarkets collecting food that was perfectly edible but unfit for sale, perhaps because it was the wrong shape to meet consumers’ expectations.

Student cook Eveline ‘Cooks’ Delnooz dreamt up a set of tasty dishes using all the ingredients, which included potatoes, pumpkins, broccoli and cabbage. The aim was to make students aware of how much food ends up in the waste bin for no good reason, explains Master’s student Timo Eckhardt, one of the organizers.

This is very much in line with the thinking of British food visionary Tristram Stuart, who   was due to give a lecture in Wageningen two days later. According to Stuart, we could get a long way towards solving the global food problem if we wasted less food. So lecturer Ljiljana Rodic-Wiersma and four students came up with the idea of the free lunch with the aim of showing that Stuart’s theory could actually work in practice.

Eckhardt does not think the  guests were attracted solely by the word ‘free’. ‘Many students are drawn to Stuart’s ideas. That was clear when the lecture two days later was completely full, in a room that seats 250. People even had to sit on the steps. But in the end you can only hope that people are genuinely interested and will change their behavior.’


The event has had repercussions higher up as well. The group has already held discussions with several relevant people on how to make the catering on campus more sustainable. Timo: ‘Cormet is already giving the matter serious thought. One idea is for students to sign up for a meal the day before, so that Cormet can buy more precise quantities of food. That might make it harder to decide at the last minute to eat on campus, but it would cut down on food waste.’